The Reunion World Tour, Day 5: Churros, horchata, and nightlife in Alicante


Rocio had warned me that my choice to sleep in the living room on the couch would be a poor one, as Bruno is their natural alarm clock, waking up before 7am and making loads of noise throwing blocks and books and babbling incoherently to himself as he played beside the couch where I slept.

However, I got a fantastic night of sleep and rustled awake before my alarm at 8am. Of course, I awoke to the sound of Bruno making loads of noise throwing blocks and books and babbling incoherently to himself but I didn’t wake up much earlier than I intended, so I considered it a beautiful night of rest.

I laid in bed as I heard Rocio in the kitchen, preparing a glass of Cola Cao for Dante and asking Bruno if he’d like a glass of horchata. Dante walked over to me and told me that Rocio wanted him to ask me if I’d like to get churros and chocolate for breakfast today. Um, yes. This is the second best thing to the time Rocio told me she had no time to cook and we’d be having crêpes and Nutella for dinner. YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES.

We got dressed, and I went with them all to the car to head off to a churro restaurant. Rocio explained that in Madrid, all cafés have churros for breakfast, but in Alicante and other Spanish cities, you have to seek out the special ones that offer them. This was one of their favorite cafes to offer such, and she told me how when she was pregnant with Bruno she’d walk their pug Lola around the nearby park every morning and stop in here for churros and chocolate. We enjoyed the thick fried strips of dough with some juice and espresso before we headed off to Dante’s soccer game at his school.

Along the way, Rocio explained that earlier that week, there were massive rainstorms throughout the area. Alicante isn’t equipped for such extremely wet weather, so the drainage system is almost non-existent, and the flooding was atrocious. The roads to Dante’s school were all blocked off, as they accumulated one-foot-deep puddles. Houses in the area were flooded on the first floor and basement. The brick walls surrounding properties toppled over, as the water filled the area behind it, almost like a pool, and the wall couldn’t bear the pressure. We pulled up to Dante’s school and the brick walls around it were all crumbled to the ground or in disrepair.

We watched Dante play while Bruno took Rocio’s water bottle and emptied it on the ground and filled with with pebbles from the student garden. After the game was over, we all headed back home. We changed and headed off to the beach so the boys could play in the park. I of course had put on my bikini and flip flops and was all prepared to dip in the water, but we only stayed a short bit, enough for me to dip my toes into the Mediterranean and remember how much I hate going to the beach because of all the effort for little payoff. So much sunscreen, you guys, so much sunscreen. I walked Dante to the public bathroom and while I waited for him to step out, a British man asked me in English if someone was in there, and I said yes. How did he know I was an English speaker?! Maybe my pale skin gave it away.

We took the bus back and got a message from Nicolette on Rocio’s phone that she’d landed and she would be heading to Rocio’s place soon. Nicolette arrived shortly after and once she dropped off her bags, we headed off to seek out lunch.

We walked through downtown, along the esplanade, and up to the Santa Cruz neighborhood, where Rocio said was a great tapas restaurant. Rincon de Antonio was the perfect place to show Nicolette the picturesque Spanish environment, in a maze of streets with beautifully painted homes and flowerpots perched on the balconies.

We ordered way more food than we could handle, including patatas bravas, bread with tomato spread, croquettes, Russian salad, fried seafood, and more. When the waitress came by to ask us what we wanted to take to go (this is so rare in Spain that I’m surprised she offered), we embarrassingly told her that we couldn’t take it, as we were going to be walking around and not be able to carry it. She frowned at the waste of food (we were ashamed, too) but still gave us a to-go box of the Russian salad. Yes, mayonnaise covered potato salad…perfect for a walk in the nice hot sun! Upon receiving our check, we get two complimentary shots of mistela, a local Valencian wine. Nicolette leaves hers on the table as she fears she’ll get drunk off of it.

We walk up the steps of the neighborhood until we encounter a path leading to the Santa Barbara castle. There’s a trash can nearby, and Nicolette leaves the food near the trash can with the foil slightly uncrinkled, so a cat could get at it if need be. If a cat finds this food way up here at the base of the castle, it deserves more than just a measly tray of warm Russian salad. Again, this sat in the direct sunlight on a stone wall. Ideal storage for a mayonnaise-based dish. Yum!

We hiked up to the castle, even though it isn’t as much of a hike as an uphill walk, since the paths are smoothly paved. We took in the gorgeous views of the surrounding sea and skyline before descending and attempting to go to the Mercado central. However, now that it was nearly four in the afternoon, it was closed. That didn’t deter us as we had plenty of other things to enjoy.

We made our way to the Soho Café, which is in a park surrounded by giant banyon trees on all sides. There we got an afternoon pick-me-up in the form of coffee and tea. We asked the waitress to take a photo of us and she not only happily obliged, but she provided us with a photo shoot from multiple angles and sides. She must do this as a hobby.

Off we walked to the mushroom street, something that didn’t exist when I was a student but is an srea of the old part of town. The pavement is painted with bright colors and there are mushroom figurines reminiscent of those from Alice in Wonderland lining the walkway. Along the path are a few restaurants and cafés, and Nicolette and I grab some ice cream from the first place we see advertising the frozen treat. The small size is massive, and I joke with the man that this would be an American small, and he kindly disagrees, telling me that that would be an American sample size. Oh, fat Americans.

We walk along Avenida de la Estacion to go to some shops. Despite it being a Danish store, I insist we first stop in Tiger, a gift shop with all sorts of cute things. I still had my ice cream cone to finish, and I tell Nicolette to enter as by the time I will finish this cone, she will have advanced a mere ten feet into the store.

I finished my cone and I was right. She only got past the coloring books and flower pot toothbrush holders before I was able to head inside. Nicolette got a handful of gifts there before we went to seek out Ale Hop, another gift store, this time one that was native to Spain (I think). I wasn’t sure where it was located so I asked a stranger for directions. They were vague, so about twenty feet later I asked another one, and another one, until I feel like I asked so many strangers who vaguely knew where it was that I was bound to have some overlap to the point that all of the people of Alicante would be like “Wait, you TOO were asked about Ale Hop by a girl with blue hair?”

We popped into a few clothing stores including Mango Outlet that had adorable clothes but none of the sizes we were seeking, until we realized we had to head home. After all, Mercadona was only open until 9:30pm and I had to show Nicolette its beauty. We popped into the store near Rocio’s apartment just in time, so I could show her the low low prices of Spanish groceries! I showed her the jamon section (where one could buy an entire pig’s leg that was cured and ready to eat), I showed her the cheap toiletries, and I showed her the wine section that made it nearly impossible to spend more than ten euros on a bottle. We grabbed some snacks for Valencia tomorrow, and we returned back to Rocio's just before ten to change for dinner.

We lucked out on the weather as it was in the sixties tonight. We were able to wear dresses! Yay! After doing our makeup we headed out back to the downtown area to seek out some food. Nicolette was interested in tapas again, so we went to the Castaños boulevard, which is lined with a dozen bustling restaurants, all with outdoor seating. We settled on Mediterrani, where we made sure not to order too much, and we succeeded. We of course got patatas bravas again, along with a salad and some mini sandwiches with chicken and pork and beef. It was a great place to people watch, as Castaños boulevard has a constant flow of foot traffic and the tables around us were just as entertaining.

The girl at the table to our right was drunkenly throwing calamari rings on the ground, as the table behind Nicolette was filled with Spanish girls just beginning their night out. A couple of men passed our table and tried to sell us some bracelets, and one gave up pretty quickly while another lingered for several minutes before moving onto the table of ladies, where he also lingered for several minutes, despite both of our insistent “no”s.

I enjoyed taking in the Spanish style. For girls, thick, beautiful hair wasn’t a requirement, but rather a natural state. Every girl we saw or encountered throughout the night had long, thick, curly hair past the shoulders, and it was gorgeous. No frizz, just perfectly tame and lush curls. Red lipstick was the trend, and black was the clothing color choice. Leather jackets, black sheer tights and skirts were typical. If it was pants, they were black. One girl at the table beside us had tiered and ruffled black pants. Unlike the trend in the USA, the jeans weren’t ripped st the knees. Save that for NYC.

Rocio recommended Code nightclub if we were looking for a place to dance without a cover charge. We walked inside and Nicolette commented that it was very loud and definitely a place you’d go with someone that you don’t want to talk to...if you know what I mean. We took in the sights (flashing purple and blue lights amidst the dark moody atmoshere), the sounds (slightly Hispanic-leaning pop and reggaeton) for a few minutes before deciding it would be nice to go somewhere to talk.

We wandered around the old quarter, stumbling upon the college classic Carpe Diem bar, where my study abroad class frequented quite often. We stepped inside and just as I remembered, it was tiny and filled with 22-year-old Americans.

We wandered sound some more and I discovered my favorite tetería in the old quarter was gone and replaced with some regular bar. We definitely attracted lots of club and bar promoters as we wandered aimlessly, looking at everyone and everything. We were prime targets. Even some girls outside of Artespiritu bar called us over as we passed by, beckoning us to enter the establishment, and they didn’t even work there, as evidenced from the drinks in their hands. We finally settled on Munich bar, so we could sit outside. The sangria we ordered was cheap at 4 euros each, and they arrived at our table in massive goblets, making them quite the value.

There, we sat for at least an hour people-watching, commenting on the beautiful curly hair of every female we saw, trying to guess the ages of bar patrons, and witnessing drunk people drop not one, but TWO glasses on the pavement, shattering them loudly.

When we finished, we headed towards the waterfront to get late night snacks at the gofres (waffles) stand. In a nearby 24-hour shop, Nicolette acquired a Nutella roll, which was just as yummy as it sounds. I purchased a giant chewy waffle (here they are sweet and dense, almost as if they put sugar cookie dough on a waffle iron) covered in Nutella. That was also as delicious as it sounds.

On the way home, two seemingly-normal middle-aged men chatted amongst themselves until we passed by, until they asked us in Spanish “are you ladies heading off to sleep…with me?” C’mon, you could have been so normal and you just had to ruin it.

Then, as we continued walking, we passed the Soho Café where two girls sat, and a car drove past and honked at us (trying to make us jump and succeeding), and then we heard it do the same to the girls in the café. It drove around the block and we continued on, until it rounded a corner heading toward us again. And as predicted, it honked just as it passed by. Even though I anticipated the beep and therefore didn’t jump, Nicolette couldn’t help herself. Eventually we lost them but jesus christ, why are men so freaking weird? Did they leave home tonight and think, “tonight we’re gonna get the attention of some ladies. Not by talking to them. Not by buying them a drink. Not by any physical or normal human contact. No, we’ll just drive past some girls who won’t be able to see us through our tinted windows and we will honk at them. It will be a RIOT!”

We finally arrived at Rocio's house around 3am, and we got ready for bed. Tonight we were granted Dante’s entire bedroom, as he slept in the room with his mom. Nicolette and I got the bunk beds and before we went to sleep, we took the quiet opportunity to check out Dante’s bookshelf and browse his picture book titled Human Sexuality and You which openly discussed queer relationships, sex, penises, vagina, masturbation and more in a series of friendly cartoon drawings. It was utterly fascinating and quite the bedtime read. Rocio is a smart mom and I think it’s awesome she got this for him.

We were off to bed before our late-morning departure to Valencia tomorrow.